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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 08-18-09, 10:33 AM   #1
Joe Bronikowski
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How important are rest days for fitness riding?

I'm finding it pretty hard to stay off the bike for even one day :-) I bought a used mountain bike off craigslist 2.5 weeks ago, and I've been riding every day since - except once when it rained all evening. It's not real hilly around here but not exactly flat either; there are plenty of up and down-grades, and a few moderate hills (guessing 50' climb in a 1/4 mile). My legs are a little sore most days, but not enough to keep me from riding, and the soreness goes away as I ride. Don't get me wrong, I'm always gassed and dripping at the end of each ride, but always ready to do it again next day.

My goals are to lose weight and improve fitness (and graduate to the big chainring on the flats!). I'm on vacation so have been riding in the mornings, but longterm will ride weekday evenings and weekend mornings.

So, are rest days important or useful for fitness, or should I just ride whenever I feel like it? Thanks!

Me: 46, 6', was 264, now 260
Bike: 1991 Trek 7000 MTB
Rides: 40-70 minutes, 7-11 miles (estimated)
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Old 08-18-09, 10:37 AM   #2
RyanML
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I can't answer from a scientific standpoint but I know what you're talking about. I try to ride everyday and the more I ride, the easier it is to get over the soreness the next day. I came home hurting one day after a 40 mile ride so I took it a little easier the next day. The more I ride the less I worry about being sore and just get on my bike and go. It's just too fun.
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Old 08-18-09, 10:38 AM   #3
zoste
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Take at least one day a week as a recovery day. You don't build muscle during a workout...you build muscle when you are resting between workouts.
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Old 08-18-09, 11:08 AM   #4
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It's better to ride different efforts. One day ride hard. If you ride the next day, just cruise the hood. It helps relax the muscle and gets the blood flowing which helps rid your muscles of the lactic acid build up. Some days hard, some days easy!

FWIW, graduating to the big ring on the flats means nothing. Fitness is about cardio which is achieved by spinning (high rpm's).

I've been on the flats spinning in the 39 ring at 20 mph. I've actually had guys on compact cranks whine that the only reason I could hold 20 and they couldn't was that I had a bigger gear (53) on my crank and they had a 50 as their bigring. They feel pretty silly when I pointout that I'm in my 39 small ring an they are in the 50!
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Old 08-18-09, 11:25 AM   #5
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I take one rest day a week. It's usually Monday as I've been able to ride quite a bit on weekends. It's normal for me to loose weight on a rest day. In the last 11 days I've lost 3.1 lbs. I lost 2.1 lbs. yesterday, a rest day, and .8 lbs. last Monday, another rest day. So, for me it's important to take a rest day.

John
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Old 08-18-09, 12:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Bronikowski View Post
I'm finding it pretty hard to stay off the bike for even one day :-) I bought a used mountain bike off craigslist 2.5 weeks ago, and I've been riding every day since - except once when it rained all evening. It's not real hilly around here but not exactly flat either; there are plenty of up and down-grades, and a few moderate hills (guessing 50' climb in a 1/4 mile). My legs are a little sore most days, but not enough to keep me from riding, and the soreness goes away as I ride. Don't get me wrong, I'm always gassed and dripping at the end of each ride, but always ready to do it again next day.

My goals are to lose weight and improve fitness (and graduate to the big chainring on the flats!). I'm on vacation so have been riding in the mornings, but longterm will ride weekday evenings and weekend mornings.

So, are rest days important or useful for fitness, or should I just ride whenever I feel like it? Thanks!

Me: 46, 6', was 264, now 260
Bike: 1991 Trek 7000 MTB
Rides: 40-70 minutes, 7-11 miles (estimated)
Make sure you understand the difference between "Recovery Day" and "Rest Day":
  • Recovery Day - Nice, easy ride, spinning/high-cadence, shorter than normal. One regular/hard effort to "break up the cobwebs"
  • Rest Day - No cycling. Avoid using the same muscles in other activities.

If you're looking to improve fitness/cycling strength & endurance:
  • Do a recovery day when your legs feel sore after a hard--or long--ride the day before.
  • Do a rest day at least once a week. Definitely do one when your legs are tired (as opposed to just sore).

If you're looking to just lose weight:
  • Do a rest day once a week to keep yourself mentally alert.
  • Your rides should not be hard, just keep it below zone 3.
  • Try to ride for longer periods of time. You may need to do a recovery ride after a longer one as your body is not used to it.
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Old 08-18-09, 12:42 PM   #7
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What is Zone 3?
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Old 08-18-09, 03:59 PM   #8
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Sorry...

On a scale of 1 to 5. Five is eyeballs are about to pop out of your head, 1 is just a whisper above walking. These can be correlated to your heart rate or power output or other factors as well. Power is the most accurate.
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Old 08-18-09, 07:41 PM   #9
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I find wearing a Polar HRM really helps. It records average HR and Max HR after the ride as well as shows you where you are at % of Max at any given time.
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Old 08-20-09, 12:28 AM   #10
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Based on where you are now (7-11 mile rides) I don't think that rest days are a necessary. It sounds like you are still a beginner. If your goals are fitness and losing weight then don't take a rest day if you are excited about riding your bike. That can come later when your goals change to performance.

For now, if you want to ride... then ride. If you feel like you need a rest day because you have ridden 6-10 days in a row... then take a rest day. When you start something like this and you push yourself to ride everyday, then after many days in a row you feel like you are "required" to ride will only lead to burnout and you'll drop the cycling completely. At that point it's time to take a rest day.
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Old 08-20-09, 04:24 AM   #11
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Beanz and mkadams are spot on for when you start to really increase your efforts, but InTheRain has the here and now. Since you are early in the journey ride when you want but listen to your body. Your legs will tell you when it's time to take a day off.

There will come a time when you start seeing Monday as a recovery day because you racked up the miles over the weeked. Monday becomes a great day to do a nice moderetae to low effort ride just to work the lactic out of your legs. Then you will be loooking to find a day, for me it is usually Thursday, to make a rest day.

Right now, just follow the heart and ride until your heart is content. It's so very cool when you first start and the desire to ride feels like Christmas morning. As supposed adults we don't find that feeling too often. Go with it, but keep in mind you do need to give the legs a day off every now and then.
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Old 08-20-09, 12:45 PM   #12
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Resting/recovery gets easier as the newness wears off.
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